Film review: Nebraska (9 out of 10)

Bruce Dern is one of those actors who has been excellent in pretty much everything he has done - but how many movies can you name he has had a major role in?

Bruce Dern and Will Forte in Nebraska
Bruce Dern and Will Forte in Nebraska

I’m disappointed to say the 1972 sci-fi Silent Running is the only one that immediately comes to my mind.

He’s had a few cameos recently but this film shows his true brilliance and proves I should have taken more notice of his career.

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Nebraska is an old-fashioned road movie and like all films of this genre, gives you plenty to think about as the credits roll.

Dern plays Woody Grant, a grizzled alcoholic old man who is losing touch with the world.

He receives a leaflet through the post saying he has ‘won’ a million dollars.

It’s one of those many modern-day sweepstakes that everyone, save Woody, realises won’t result is him getting any money.

But Woody is determined to travel from Nebraska to Lincoln to collect his ‘winnings’.

His younger son David (Will Forte) accompanies him.

On the way, they stop off at the old family home town where David learns more about his father.

There is plenty of humour but the director, Alexander Payne, who was born in Nebraska, has shot it in black and white to keep us focussed on the emotions.

The mono aspect also emphasises the rather rundown feel of this part of America where nothing much happens and the recession has hit hard.

This is a delightful movie that asks pertinent questions about old age and a person’s relevance in society.

It’s also a close look at family relations and how easy it is for relatives to become remote.

Hopefully, when the awards season comes round, Mr Dern will get at least a mention.

Film details: Nebraska (15) 115mins

Director: Alexander Payne

Starring: Bruce Dern, Will Forte, Stacy Keach, June Squibb

Screening courtesy of Cineworld Crawley